My wife's grandfather was from Austria and served in the Kriegsmarine during WW2. He moved to the Hartford, Connecticut area after the war.
When I started dating my wife my future mother-in-law showed me her late father's photo album from the war (he committed suicide when she was only 5 years old).
Only last week my mom-in-law showed me a small booklet her half brother in Austria had put together which featured photos from this album. .
It turns out, one of the very non-descript photos of her dad's naval buddies shown posing on board a ship has the inscription "On the Wilhelm Gustloff" on the back.
I literally got chills reading that.
If you do not know, the Wilhelm Gustloff was history's greatest maritime disaster.
In the waning days of WW2, as the Red Army closed in on East Prussia and Danzig, civilians, women and children, soldiers, were desperately crammed onboard the passenger liner Wilhelm Gustloff in an attempt to evacuate them to Germany ahead of the oncoming Russian horde.
In the confusion accurate passenger lists were not kept, but as many as 10,000, possibly more, were crammed aboard her as she set sail. The Soviet submarine S-13 under Captain Alexander Marinesko spotted her and put three torpedoes into her port side.
In the chaos and confusion of the sinking that followed, more than 9,000 are believed to have perished. An accurate number will never be known.
So, although this photo is not very interesting, it's unassuming setting is historic and very macabre.